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2020: Jan-Jun

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And I'm not broke yet.

Character limit maxed in mid-May (lockdown increased my music intake too much), so needed to cut down some entries.

I also gave up listing all the potential MSA candidates I ploughed through in late December

Created by: musclassia | 16.01.2020

1. Psychonaut - Unfold The God Man
[9.0] - Sprawling, psychedelic progressive post-metal with a very distinctive sound, and meshing of various vocal and instrumental approaches. Brings measured bouts of intensity, but is more of an atmospheric, twisting experience.
2. Elder - Omens
[8.8] - On the one hand, some of the vocal parts are a bit iffy, and some of the rockier bits occasionally fall a bit flat. On the other hand, they deliver an array of incredibly pleasing lush melodic sections that more than make up for it, particularly on Halcyon.
3. Regarde Les Hommes Tomber - Ascension
[8.8] - Another storming display of atmospheric blackened sludge, with infernal production, thunderous percussion and ripping riffs. The Crowning and the final track are the highlights of an excellent collection of music.
4. Pure Reason Revolution - Eupnea
[8.7] - A consummate return to music, and particularly to the prog of their masterpiece debut The Dark Third, with the mellow prog preferred over the electronic alt rock of their subsequent efforts.
5. Barishi - Old Smoke
[8.6] - A major advancement, in terms of song length and songwriting craft, from their previous record, they have gone all in on the prog sludge/stoner sound, pulling off the 10+-minute tracks with aplomb.
6. Ulcerate - Stare Into Death And Be Still
[8.6] - Ulcerate add some degree of levity to their claustrophobic dissonant death metal sound and in doing so release what might be their strongest effort yet.
7. Lotus Thief - Oresteia
[8.5] - Drenched in atmosphere, this lurks on the edges of an explosion for long stretches, with its imploring vocals and ominous guitars, but is generally quite reserved in its approach, an exquisite blend of post-rock, alt, and hints of extreme metal.
8. Katie Gately - Loom
[8.5] - A tribute to her late mother, Katie Gately channels a bit of Kate Bush in this dark, at times almost industrial art pop venture, with Waltz and Bracer particular highlights. The vocal layering, use of various sound effects (whether instruments or mechanical) and songwriting maturity, particularly on Bracer, are enthralling.
9. Skyforest - A New Dawn
[8.5] - Symphonic melodic black with stirring strings, the whole thing is imbued with so much emotional heft in every moment. It takes a bit of time to fully build up momentum, but Heart Of The Forest and Wanderer are quite delightful.
10. Intronaut - Fluid Existential Inversions
[8.5] - Some more quality prog/sludge/post-metal, with the band showing no signs of going wayward despite the loss of their drummer.
11. Earth Rot - Black Tides Of Obscurity
[8.4] - An absolute riff onslaught; these songs are packed with a whole range of ideas in the black/death metal spectrum, all of which are delivered with high quality (although the curveball clean riff midway through The Cape Of Storms didn't quite do it for me).
12. Sylosis - Cycle Of Suffering
[8.4] - My favourite band, coming back after a hiatus, I'm glad just to hear anything from them, but I do have to concede that a lot of the material here doesn't live up to the legacy of Monolith and Edge Of The Earth, although Empty Prophets and Apex Of Disdain slay.
13. Oranssi Pazuzu - Mestarin Kynsi
[8.4] - Another strong effort from these psychedelic metallers; the keyboards provide some outstanding moments, especially on track 5, and the general atmosphere is as surreal yet captivating as ever.
14. Nadja - Sv (Moving Noises Version)
[8.4] - A strong live rendition of the hypnotic Sv.
15. Tombs - Monarchy Of Shadows
[8.3] - A new line-up and a new lust for life for this US black metal band, with some death metal influences bleeding in (unsurprising given 3/4 of the band is also in a death metal band); the first two tracks and The Dark Rift in particular rip.
16. Dwaal - Gospel Of The Vile
[8.3] - Crushing sludge doom somewhat in the vein of Eremit's record from last year, but somewhat more post-metal-oriented, this is a slog of a listen but a rewarding one.
17. Bríi - Entre Tudo Que É Visto E Oculto
[8.3] - Very out there avant-garde ambient space black metal album (feel free to throw some other genre tags in there), it starts off sounding like a dark tribal ambient record, but is a lot more focused on electronics in later songs.
18. Zopp - Zopp
[8.3] - A pretty excellent classic Canterbury-sounding instrumental prog rock album, with the likes of Sellanra, V and The Noble Shirker standing out on a consistently strong tracklist.
19. Globular & Geoglyph - Messages From The Resonator
[8.3] - A pretty damn sick electronic project, I've seen it tagged as 'psybient', which sounds right - it's pretty psychedelic, it's slightly ambient, but also quite groovy. Really vibrant sound and mellow vibes, I dig it a lot.
20. Spectral Lore - Wanderers: Astrology Of The Nine [Collaboration]
[8.3] - The length of this unfortunately makes it a daunting listen, and not one I'm likely to go back to (much like Spectral Lore's previous album III), which is a shame as this is pretty consistently great throughout, across both artists' songs. I enjoy Spectral Lore's earlier songs (Mercury, Earth) more, but find myself drawn more to Mare Cognitum's efforts as it goes on, particularly Jupiter and Neptune.
21. I Break Horses - Warning
[8.2] - Really enjoyable dreamy, shoegaze-y pop, with hazey vocals, moving compositions and nice use of keyboards.
22. Protest The Hero - Palimpsest
[8.2] - Boosting the orchestrals this time around, not going to rival their previous albums in my eyes but nice to hear more of them.
23. Hail Spirit Noir - Eden In Reverse
[8.2] - A really interesting Arcturus/Borknagar-ish prog sound that seems far away from the extreme prog sound from their earlier records.
24. Atavist - III: Absolution
[8.2] - As far as sludge doom albums go, this one is far more towards the doom end, approaching funeral doom in its morose, glacial pacing and overbearing sense of melancholy.
25. Dukatalon - Involuntary Action
[8.2] - Some slicky, groovy sludge with plenty of thunderous low-end and not quite the swagger of Hollow Leg, but very accessible, and with some tasteful melodic guitar work alongside the power of the riffs, which are replete with sick hooks.
26. Thy Catafalque - Naiv
[8.2] - The most I've enjoyed an album by this project since Rengeteg, it's huge fun and possesses a lot of the 'accessible oddball' charm of that particular record.
27. Garganjua - Toward The Sun
[8.2] - An interesting post-/doom fusion, the heavy parts are backed up with impressive sound, whilst the lighter moments are quite airy. The clean vocals work nicely in conjunction with the instrumentals, whilst the growls have depth.
28. Loviatar - Lightless
2020 [8.2] - Really interesting combination of alt, post-, prog and doom sounds, and aside from Cave In, I enjoy the accompanying vocals.
29. Paradise Lost - Obsidian
[8.2] - PL bring the Gothic back in a big way here; the death/doom of the last couple of albums is more of an occasional rather than regular approach, with Sisters of Mercy influence coming through strong on the likes of Ghosts, and Draconian Times vibes on other songs.
30. Caligula's Horse - Rise Radiant
[8.2] - Another solid album from a band that I don't fully get, but enjoy a fair bit. Oceanrise and Salt stood out in particular, and the closer is another impressive lengthy track to follow up the success of Graves on In Contact, an album I slightly prefer to this one.
31. Green Carnation - Leaves Of Yesteryear
[8.1] - Almost an EP rather than a full-length, the Solitude cover is a bit redundant, but the re-recording is excellent, the title track is fantastic, and the other two songs are good enough to make the album as a whole a success.
32. Rannoch - Reflections Upon Darkness
[8.1] - Impressive prog death record, with elements reminiscent of Opeth, Corelia, and several others.
33. Wake - Devouring Ruin
[8.1] - Ferocious, inventive and well-structured proggy blackened death, with slight hints of dissonance but also moments of levity.
34. Vredehammer - Viperous
[8.1] - Ripping blackened death with good use of electronics.
35. Forndom - Faþir
[8.1] - Another enjoyable addition to the Scandinavian neofolk scene, of very similar style to Wardruna but perhaps less vocally-driven, and with some lovely use of strings.
36. Calligram - The Eye Is The First Circle
[8.1] - Brief, frantic blackened hardcore, with some frenetic outbursts earlier on in the record, but hints of more sludgy sounds on Anedonia and more classic BM in the closing track.
37. Árstíðir Lífsins - Saga Á Tveim Tungum II: Eigi Fjǫll Né Firðir
[8.1] - Like the bridge between black metal and Wardruna/Heilung neofolk, overly long but pretty great.
38. Sweven - The Eternal Resonance
[8.1] - A musical return from the frontman of Morbus Chron, this is very proggy, and although I don't necessarily love it, it's a very interesting take on prog death.
39. Aeternam - Al Qassam
[8.1] - Clearly influenced by Orphaned Land (if having Kobi Farhi on the record wasn't evidence enough for that), but more in a melodeath vein. The sound, use of keyboards and dual vocals are all really nice here, I imagine this will be one of the strongest melodeath albums this year.
40. Pattern-Seeking Animals - Prehensile Tales
[8.1] - I can hear the Spock's Beard sound in this Spock's Beard member-containing supergroup, but also elements from groups such as The Dear Hunter. I thought it was rather enjoyable on the whole, including the two lengthy closing tracks.
41. Autolith - Caustic Light
[8.1] - Meaty doomy blackened sludge, it's grim and relentless, and can let loose with the pace, but still retains a decent amount of groove and pulls out some riffs prime for headbanging.
42. O - Antropocene
[8.1] - Suitably vicious post-black/blackened hardcore onslaught.
43. Fluisteraars - Bloem
[8.1] - Didn't grab my attention early on too much with the slightly off-kilter blackgaze sound, but it became increasingly charming as the song and album went on. Offers some pretty uplifting melody, increasingly so as the album goes on.
44. Borgne - Y
[8.1] - Complex and captivating black metal, particularly later on. It can cover some quite varied territory, up to and including symphonic black and straight-up extended electronic interludes, but all done in a quality manner.
45. Dawn Of Ouroboros - The Art Of Morphology
[8.1] - A varied and consistently engaging progressive melodeath record, that operates in established melodeath territory as well as venturing off into proggy detours or offering up more extreme passages, all of which is held together by good songwriting and enjoyable vocals.
46. Dola - Dola
[8.1] - An impressive album that manages to be varied and draw on a range of inspirations without sounding eclectic. At it's core it's a blackened doom album, but the post-rock elements in Wyusc Nas, the sludgy grooves in Tam Mnie Nie Unijesz and other elements distinguish it from similar bands.
47. Kvaen - The Funeral Pyre
[8.1] - Well-crafted meloblack, with a sharper edge and more grounded approach than some of the entries on this list, and a good balance of aggressive parts and more atmospheric moments.
48. Yuri Gagarin - The Outskirts Of Reality
[8.1] - A band that managed to rack up quite a lot of plays on one of their previous albums by it being reliably recommended by YouTube when listening to anything post- related, this is a solid follow-up by a band with the skills to generally merit that kind of exposure.
49. Aiming For Enrike - Music For Working Out
[8.1] - I'm not familiar with 'dance punk', but if it's like this album then it sounds like a lot of fun, as this is a highly entertaining little effort, full of energy, vibrancy, and with plenty of hooks.
50. ...And Oceans - Cosmic World Mother
[8.1] - Some pretty damn fun symphonic black from this returning act after nearly 2 decades without an album; the use of different electronic approaches outside of just dramatic synths gives certain songs interesting flavours.
51. Dzö-nga - Thunder In The Mountains
[8.1] - This year's Saor - Forgotten Paths, some very pleasant folk/meloblack with gentle acoustic guitars, dainty strings and wind instruments, and epic meloblack, as well as contrasting male and female cleans, and BM shrieks. Starlight, Moonlight, Firelight is a delightful instrumental piece.
52. Myrkur - Folkesange
[8.0] - The metal is now all gone, which isn't surprising based on Mareridt. However, the folk on this is reliably serene and stirring throughout, more so than the folk tracks on Mareridt, and overall this is a calming and thoroughly pleasant listening experience.
53. Haissem - Kuhaghan Tyyn
[8.0] - Some fairly epic melodic black metal, with 4 long songs filled with solid riffs, interesting twists and turms, effective cameos by keyboards, female vocals and other occasional additions to the mix.
54. Odraza - Rzeczom
[8.0] - Impressive moody black metal album in the vein of Sweden's Shining.
55. Neck Of The Woods - The Annex Of Ire
[8.0] - Has elements of tech-death to it, but also hints of melodeath and core, as well as other metal approaches, all succinctly displayed in under 40 minutes.
56. High Priestess - Casting The Circle
[8.0] - Pretty enthralling doomy psychedelic hard rock, with a gloomy, ethereal atmosphere and enchanting vocals. The 17-minute epic that makes up much of the latter half of the record is consummately pulled off.
57. Dragged Into Sunlight - Terminal Aggressor II
[8.0] - The extended noisy dark ambient opening eventually gives way to some appropriately savage blackened sludge, which ramps in intensity throughout this near-half hour single song of bile and misery.
58. Leeched - To Dull The Blades Of Your Abuse
[8.0] - Absolutely vicious metallic hardcore with bile-infused riffs and a spastic stop-start energy, whilst still managing to retain some measure of groove.
59. OHHMS - Close
[8.0] - Concise for the band but well-delivered, a solid final record to listen in the first half of 2020.
60. Infected Mushroom - More Than Just A Name
[8.0] - Fun blast of psytrance and other electronic styles; the ooh-eeh-ooh track develops nicely.
61. End (USA) - Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face
[8.0] - Vicious hardcore with wildly distorted vocals, but with some punishing grooves alongside the aggression.
62. Esoctrilihum - Eternity Of Shaog
[8.0] - Some of the more impenetrably repulsive music early on was difficult to digest, as were the gargled vocals, but the use of symphonic elements later on, as well as some more 80s proto-extreme metal riffing approaches and the infernal atmosphere ultimately won me over.
63. Pendragon - Love Over Fear
[8.0] - Lush, emotive prog rock. Love the instrumentals on "Truth And Lies".
64. Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts V: Together
[8.0] - Positively serene ambient electronic music - very spacious, with subdued, slow, sad piano parts carrying the bulk of the directional responsibilities of the music, aside from the more typical final song.
65. Holy Death - Supreme Metaphysical Violence
[8.0] - This feels like real death doom, in that it's slow, miserable music with a death metal production and tone. The songs here are grim trudges with an almost industrial edge, but there are moments of levity, such as "Nothingness".
66. Night Crowned - Impius Viam
[8.0] - Entertaining and infectious symphonic melodic black metal with a certain flair for the dramatic. Fairly generic but thoroughly enjoyable.
67. Akurion - Come Forth To Me
[8.0] - This is classed as tech-death, but whilst it's got tech-y elements, it feels a bit closer to being prog death, with less 'wankery' and a darker complexity to it.
68. Master Boot Record - Floppy Disk Overdrive
[8.0] - MBR seems to be pretty prolific, but from their record last year and now here, they seem to be consistent with their brand of cyber-metal, not unlike Perturbator and The Algorithm. This was pretty fun listening all round, although longer than it needed to be.
69. Postvorta - Porrima
[8.0] - Exhaustingly long near-90-minute record, but these are some well-composed post-metal/post-rock/sludge dirges, with slow stomping riffs, some more driving mid-tempo action, bursts of post-rock tremolo, and more stuck into this sonic mire.
70. Stoned God - Incorporeal
[8.0] - An effective combination of Gojira's classic groove/death sound with prog, tech-death, deathcore and other elements, the use of dramatic clean vocals on here is a key weapon to elevate it above being a mere Gojira clone.
71. On Thorns I Lay - Threnos
[8.0] - A solid follow-up to Aegaen Sorrow with another strong display of their appealing Gothic doom sound, full of dramatic synth backgrounds, deep gutturals and pleasantly melancholic guitar leads and riffs.
72. Xenobiotic - Mordrake
[8.0] - Dense, exciting techy deathcore with a hefty low-end, satisfying song structures and tasteful use of keyboards to add dynamics.
73. Cult Of Fire - Nirvana
[8.0] - Just about edges Moksha, aside from the understated, more freeform intro to Budda pt. 3, this is some solid symphonic meloblack, which isn't quite how I remember them sounding before.
74. Vengeful Spectre - Vengeful Spectre
[8.0] - Rather intriguing black metal that incorporates folk elements from the band's native China, these elements are generally well-utilized, aside from some rough moments, and the underlying black metal is solid if not spectacular.
75. Vulkan - Technatura
[8.0] - Enjoyable bouncy, twisting but melodic modern prog.
76. Xibalba - Años En Infierno
[8.0] - A solid blast of doomy death metal, bringing out the buzzsaw fury but also operating in lower paces with large walls of sound, or even taking breaks for quieter stretches such as in El Abismo.
77. Endless Forms Most Gruesome - Endless Forms Most Gruesome
[8.0] - Some thick doomy sludge, not quite as crushingly heavy as some other bands playing similar music, but they've got solid hooks to compensate.
78. Ben Lukas Boysen - Mirage
[8.0] - Interesting combo of electronics, smooth jazz and other elements to make quite the slick, laidback listen.
79. Descend Into Despair - Opium
[8.0] - Rich-sounding funeral doom with some nice use of synths and bursts of uptempo blasting.
80. Håndgemeng - Grim Riffer
[8.0] - Top quality stoner metal EP, with irresistible riffs and licks and a nice fuzzy production.
81. Exgenesis - Solve Et Coagula
[8.0] - Stirring melancholic death/doom that leans more towards the melodic side, but can venture into more extreme territory when needed.
82. The Heliocentrics - Infinity Of Now
[8.0] - A compelling combination of psychedelic rock, krautrock, jazz, funk and more into a vibrant, eclectic and ever-mobile sound; whilst the spastic saxophone on Elephant Walk wasn't to my liking, the stirring climax of lengthy closer People Wake Up! makes for a memorable end to the record.
83. Olhava - Ladoga
[8.0] - Lengthy but serene blackgaze, with a semi-permanent sheen offering up tranquillity. The bass is pleasantly audible throughout, which is a nice touch.
84. Forlesen - Hierophant Violent
[7.9] - A collaborative venture featuring members from Lotus Thief, Botanist, Kayo Dot and more, this is comprised of two lengthy songs that are predominantly comprised of expansive, dreamy, droney soundscapes into which other instrumentation is incorporated, including the rockier, outro to Following Light.
85. Cryptic Shift - Visitations From Enceladus
[7.9] - The 25-minute opening track is an ambitious effort for a tech-death album, but the tech is strong here, whilst not being too wanky. The extreme side lives in that late 80s/early 90s harsh thrash/OSDM bubble, but with the intricacies of somebody like Atheist thrown on top.
86. Igorrr - Spirituality And Distortion
[7.9] - A fairly lengthy venture, it's got much of the wackiness one would expect from an Igorrr record, but it's probably the most relatable one of his releases yet for me.
87. Old Man Gloom - Seminar VIII: Light Of Meaning
[7.9] - Just beats out its partner album, with more effective shorter songs (or at least Wrath Of The Weary), less iffy patches, and a solid trio of ~10-minute closing tracks.
88. Comacozer / Vinnum Sabbathi - Here And Beyond
[7.9] - VS's tracks are decent, but Comacozer steals the show with their epic 20-min jam Sun Of Hyperion.
89. The Ditch And The Delta - The Ditch And The Delta
[7.9] - Grim sludge with some atmospheric and hardcore elements, the more spacious parts worked well and the aggressive sections were suitably claustrophobic.
90. Corelia - New Wilderness
[7.9] - An awful lot to digest here on this >90-minute unfinished demo, but it's surprising enough to actually finally hear the album funded by the controversial Indiegogo campaign that it's easy to look past the production flaws.
91. Inception Of Fall - Builders Of The World
[7.9] - Really impressive tech-death demo, with a high-quality production job, tasty riffs and nice progressive/technical elements that avoid wankery.
92. Daniel Tompkins - Ruins
[7.9] - Has aspects of Tesseract, but also some rockier and poppier inclinations; sounds nice.
93. In The Company Of Serpents - Lux
[7.9] - Can bringing out some punishingly grim sludge doom, but also tone things down for the more stripped-down and blues-y The Chasm At The Mouth Of The All, which had a bit of a Neurosis vibe to it, or the psychedelic tone of Lightchild.
94. Sojourner - Premonitions
[7.9] - Nicely rousing atmos-black with synths, dual female/harsh vocals and plenty of enjoyable cheese.
95. Velnias - Scion Of Aether
[7.9] - Rather rough-edged production, but this is some stirring atmospheric black metal, with some nice lead guitar solo work and hooky riffing.
96. Dance Gavin Dance - Afterburner
[7.9] - Lively and eclectic post-hardcore release with some rap, latin and other elements added into the emo-tinged post-hardcore core of the sound.
97. Wolfheart - Wolves Of Karelia
[7.9] - Very typical Finnish melodeath, and very typical for Saukkonen, but some of the later tracks, particularly Ashes, are pretty great.
98. Agodea - Of Stars And Madmen
[7.9] - Slightly techy death with a sound that feels both classic and modern, and plenty of hooky, slightly melodic riffs.
99. Marrasmieli - Between Land And Sky
[7.9] - Folky atmos-black, but a gnarlier beast than Dzo-nga or Skyforest, with the folk elements a tad more muted and the black metal somewhat harsher. Wasn't quite as enjoyable but similarly well-written.
100. Soliloquium - Things We Leave Behind
[7.9] - Solid melodic death/doom with a nice softer side in the gaze-y A Fleeting Moment.
101. Arbrynth - A Place Of Buried Light
[7.9] - A subdued but stirring atmos-black record. The first song is a bit underwhelming, but the second track more than makes up for it, and builds good momentum for the rest of the record, with Beautiful In Death also a suitably moving piece.
102. Redwood Hill - Ender
[7.9] - It's been a long while, but this blackened post-metal band finally has album number 3 out. It's a lot longer than the previous two, and less diverse, drawing more heavily than previously from the fountain of Amenra, but they're still capable of delivering bleak, crushing post-metal.
103. Turia - Degen Van Licht
[7.9] - Accomplished atmos-black, pretty heavy on the blasting for an atmos-black band but has those signature atmospheric moments too, some of which work really nicely with the tremolo guitar melodies infused into them, such as in the title track.
104. Yaldabaoth - That Which Whets The Saccharine Palate
[7.9] - Technical and occasionally chaotic black metal, some times it gets contorted and nasty in a way that doesn't particularly appeal, but some of the proggy creepy but mellow bits are nice, and the general mild oddness is enjoyable enough.
105. Black Royal - Firebride
[7.9] - An impressive coalition of death/doom, sludge, hard rock and symphonic elements into a natural and cohesive package, possessing a thick, volcanic sound and plenty of aggression, but also more accessible rock inclinations and tasteful, occasional use of orchestral instruments such as violin.
106. Nyrst - Orsök
[7.9] - Unusually classic-sounding black metal from Iceland, this doesn't break the rule book, but it follows it in a very satisfying manner.
107. Malokarpatan - Krupinské Ohne
[7.9] - Lengthy journeys of somewhat speed/heavy metal-infused black metal, with some quirky synths appearing from time to time. Some parts drag a bit, but there's a number of great moments to compensate.
108. Vile Creature - Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!
[7.9] - This could be a tad one-dimensional at times, but was still satisfying enough, and the chorals were an interesting touch.
109. Lurker Of Chalice - Tellurian Slaked Furnace
[7.9] - I don't know their album well enough to say how this stacks up, but I enjoyed the psychedelic vibe to a lot of the music here.
110. DEADLIFE - City Of Eternal Rain
[7.9] - Fun synthwave album that runs the spectrum from intense hacker music to Drive-like smooth soundscapes.
111. Sinistral King - Serpent Uncoiling
[7.9] - Quality if somewhat generic black metal, but with quite effective use of subtle choir arrangements.
112. Rotting Kingdom - A Deeper Shade Of Sorrow
[7.9] - The diversion into OSDM on Absolute Ruin, as competent as it is, doesn't feel entirely necessary, but the grim death doom on the other tracks is fairly compelling and emotive.
113. Dawn Of Solace - Waves
[7.9] - The latest entry into the extensive multi-project discography of melancholy melodic metaller Tuomas Saukkonen, there's no huge surprises; this is a solid record, with effective atmosphere and moving songs, particularly cuts such as Choice.
114. Sepultura - Quadra
[7.9] - Sepultura are getting quite ambitious at times here, particularly with some of the choral vocals, symphonics and more later in the album, whilst still delivering some of their harder-hitting thrash tracks in a while early on. May beat out The Mediator... as my favourite Derrick Green record.
115. Wacław Zimpel - Massive Oscillations
[7.9] - Minimalist electronics, employing oscillating pulses on the title track and new age serenity of Sine Tapes and Release. The spastic free jazz alto clarinet interjections are not particularly enjoyed, but when it's on song, Massive Oscillations conjures up some compelling musical journeys.
116. Zalmoxis - A Nocturnal Emanation
[7.9] - Extensive and accomplished 20-odd minute single black metal song, with solid riffs and atmosphere.
117. Konvent - Puritan Masochism
[7.9] - A fairly classic doom-sounding death/doom record, compared to some of the fathomless depths extreme doom bands can drop to, the lead guitar riffs, Candlemass-on-steroids riffs and growls all work rather nicely.
118. Al-Namrood - Wala'at
[7.8] - Something of an Arabian take on the folk/black fusion Vengeful Spectre pulled off earlier in the year, it's a bit rougher around the edges but similarly intriguing and likeable.
119. King Buffalo - Dead Star
[7.8] - Not quite as good as its predecessor, but there's some enjoyable music to be found between the lengthy opener and lush closing title track.
120. Nada - Red Sky
2020 [7.8] - A groovy breakdown-heavy atmospheric deathcore release, with some chunky riffs and spacious guitar work to add range to the tracks.
121. Winterfylleth - The Reckoning Dawn
[7.8] - More reliably solid atmos-black from this consistently good-but-not-quite-great band.
122. Ciel Nordique - II
2020 [7.8] - Alternates between black metal and uplifting electronic ambience, with a nice folky final song. Short but sweet.
123. Yoth Iria - Under His Sway
[7.8] - Short but sweet burst of mid-tempo melodic black metal, with nice lead guitar work, gang vocals and chuggy grooves.
124. Ether Coven - Everything Is Temporary Except Suffering
[7.8] - Moody atmospheric sludge with some lengthy song runtimes, chunky riffs and murky atmosphere. The clean vocals aren't necessarily great, but this does the darker, heavier stuff more than well enough to compensate for this.
125. Lesser Glow - Nullity
[7.8] - I like the slightly off-kilter vibe to the post/sludge here; the combination of cleaner singing with grim riffs like these does offer intriguing possibilities.
126. Blackguard - Storm
[7.8] - Pretty conventional-sounding melodeath/extreme power with symphonic and folk elements; lots of high-energy epic cheese, but done in a very fun way.
127. Elephant Tree - Habits
[7.8] - Enjoyable heavy stoner rock somewhat in the vein of King Buffalo, pretty standard for the genre but with enough slightly distinctive spins, particularly in the vocal melodies and use of keyboards, to avoid sounding overly generic.
128. Aeonian Sorrow - A Life Without
[7.8] - Slow, morose, grandiose extreme melodic doom with a Gothic vibe, particularly from the keyboards and beauty and the beast contrasting vocals. I found it pretty moving, and the abridged runtime worked in its favour.
129. The Funeral Orchestra - Negative Evocation Rites
[7.8] - Slow, grim and effective funeral doom.
130. Ripped To Shreds - 亂 (Luan)
[7.8] - More exciting than a lot of old-school-sounding death metal, thanks to some of the memorable lead guitar work (particularly on Opening Salvo), but also the proper Seven Churches/Scream Bloody Gore vocal roughness.
131. Words Of Farewell - Inner Universe
[7.8] - Brief burst of exciting and exciting melodeath; symphonic on certain tracks, but more as an atmospheric sheen rather than taking centre stage. The lead guitar pyrotechnics on closing track Alter Memory were fun, and the groovy percussion brightened up a couple of other tracks.
132. Psychotic Waltz - The God-Shaped Void
[7.8] - A band I knew by name but not by music, I can appreciate why long-term fans of the band would be excited by this comeback as it comes across nicely, even though it's not quite what I vibe with these days.
133. L'Homme Absurde - Belong
[7.8] - A solid take on the post-black style, with a meaty production, good nice and nasty moments, and solid song structures. The electronic outro of Sanctuary makes for a nice conclusion to the record.
134. Back To R'lyeh - Chosen
[7.8] - At times, sounds like Bruce Dickinson fronting an avantgarde band. I wasn't too convinced early on but found it increasingly intriguing as it progressed, with some great songs around the middle in particular.
135. Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts VI: Locusts
[7.8] - The creepier, darker brother to Ghosts, this is similarly intriguing but suffers from being another 15 minutes longer, which pushes it over into really dragging at times.
136. The Hirsch Effekt - Kollaps
[7.8] - Frantic, aggressive mathy metal album, which goes from melodic singing to the grimmest of breakdowns. A bit too frantic and lacking in killer moments to fully win me over, but the songs generally flow well, the vocals are strong and there's a few really solid tracks in the back half of the record.
137. Catalepsia - Inheritance
[7.8] - This is the year of super-long albums, and this is another one to add to the pile, with nearly 80 minutes of solid Gothic doom to get stuck into. Overly long, but the title track saves it.
138. Cult Of Fire - Moksha
[7.8] - A bit more melodic than I remember them being, but an interesting and engaging album on the whole. The Indian musical influences seem less prominent than on some previous records, aside from the chanting on Har Har Mahadev, but there is otherwise a solid chunk of melodic black metal (with occasional keyboards) to get stuck into here.
139. Jordablod - The Cabinet Of Numinous Song
[7.8] - Nicely twisted black metal; some of the roughness in the production, such as the churning bass sound, adds to the psychedelic aspects of the album. It's a bit more interesting when it's going a bit wacky or bringing in medieval melodies than when it's doing the blackened rock sound on some tracks.
140. Dark Fortress - Spectres From The Old World
[7.8] - Surprised to see this black metal album explode quite so much in the charts; it's got a relatively distinctive sound, but whilst I find it relatively enjoyable, I'm not sure what it is here that's supposed to really grip me.
141. Agnes Obel - Myopia
[7.8] - Soothing Kate Bush-esque art chamber pop, with a somewhat subdued and sullen vibe. The opening song and title track are particular highlights.
142. Karg - Traktat
[7.8] - Extremely long but generally compelling blackgaze/melodic black metal, with the typical dainty guitar work above a barrage of low-end blasting effectively pulled off.
143. Sightless Pit - Grave Of A Dog
[7.8] - A wild, varied cacophony of noise, it's a predictably imaginative project given the out-there musical projects of the comprising members, but whilst it's not my thing, I found it more rewarding than most of the music those other bands have put out.
144. NGHTCRWLR - HiSeq_Let The Children Scream
[7.8] - I dig the noisy, sinister, grinding dub backdrop to the title track, and the overall oppressive, dense soundscape of this record.
145. Sea - Impermanence
[7.8] - Heavy doomy, sludgy post-metal; the vocals are pained enough and riffs suitably crushingly heavy, but it mainly shines on the lengthy closer Dust rather than being consistently great throughout.
146. Frayle - 1692
[7.8] - Enjoyable female-fronted doom (although the 10-second Monsters really should've been removed), the slow riffs and vocal interplay between softer and harsher vocals is done quite effectively.
147. The Black Dahlia Murder - Verminous
[7.8] - TBDM release a TBDM record; it sounds exactly as you would expect, both in terms of quality and originality. Plenty to enjoy here, but after Ritual they've all started to blend together, and I don't think this will buck that trend.
148. Eremit - Desert Of Ghouls
[7.7] - Pretty enjoyable EP from these guys, but quite a departure from the achingly long slogs of Carrier Of Weight, to an extent that slightly 'un'distinguishes the group from similar acts.
149. Mountaineer - Bloodletting
[7.7] - Intriguing album, has a post-metal base, but some tracks are more doomy whilst several others push a shoegaze sound.
150. Carpenter Brut - Blood Machines OST
[7.7] - Very much in the vein of previous work by himself and other synthwave artists, but still makes for very enjoyable listening, despite being a bit too interlude-y (understandable given that it is a movie soundtrack).
151. Temple Of Void - The World That Was
[7.7] - Short but sweet burst of doomy death metal, with some solid buzzsaw riffs, atmospheric guitar leads and other little flourishes.
152. An Autumn For Crippled Children - All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
[7.7] - The blackgaze here is a bit limited at times, partially by the production, but the use of electronics substantially elevates almost all the tracks here, allowing this record to stand out amongst its many peers.
153. Benighted - Obscene Repressed
[7.7] - I'm not sure if this is my first Benighted album or not. I'm not that big on the brutal death, but for the sub-genre this is pretty solid, with some tasty riffing in there, and the odd exciting moment of levity.
154. Envy - The Fallen Crimson
[7.7] - Nice blackgaze/post-hardcore, with a good mesh of punky aggression on some songs and euphoric serenity on others. Bit overly long though, the appeal wears off a bit towards the end.
155. Lychgate - Also Sprach Futura
[7.7] - Twisted extreme prog with dissonant and discordant elements, as well as some quite dramatic organ sounds that add an unusually grandiose dimension to something that would otherwise sound quite murky and chaotic. Pretty intriguing and well-structured, but one of those things that I admire more than actually liking.
156. Haken - Virus
[7.7] - Not the worst virus in 2020, but I can't say I like Prosthetic much at all.
157. Erancnoir - Berglicht
[7.7] - Monolithic atmospheric black very much in the vein of Mesarthim with its use of keyboards. 4 songs pushing 70 minutes, it's lengthy and rather repetitive, but done in quite an appealing way.
158. Umbra Vitae - Shadow Of Life
[7.7] - Pretty cool modern death metal that takes inspiration from classic death metal (buzzsaw guitars case in point), but with some hardcore and mathcore influences in there, and relatively satisfying periods of downtime, such as in Intimate Inferno.
159. The Spirit - Cosmic Terror
[7.7] - A very classic take on the meloblack sound, but a rather enjoyable one. Not quite Dissection worship in the way something like Thulcandra is, but heavily inspired by that group.
160. White Stones - Kuarahy
[7.7] - Basically an album of the death metal parts of albums such as Still Life and Deliverance, pretty tasty and of comparable quality to the extreme parts of those albums, but does suffer a bit from sounding so reminiscent of Opeth without having the additional stuff that band delivered.
161. The Amazing Devil - The Horror And The Wild
[7.7] - Not all of it is quite to my tastes - it's probably not surprising that the darker sounding songs, such as the title track and That Unwanted Animals, are more to my tastes than the more jovial folk pieces, but it's pretty charming.
162. Thanatos - Violent Death Rituals
[7.7] - Vicious thrash/death in the vein of early Kreator, this is explosive and relentless.
163. August Burns Red - Guardians
[7.7] - Feels a bit more mallcore-y than Phantom Anthem? But is still solid on the whole, except for Lighthouse, which was a bit iffy.
164. Old Man Gloom - Seminar IX: Darkness Of Being
[7.7] - A surprise early release, like many of their efforts this is hit and miss, with the noisier elements not hugely appreciated, but the sludgier parts sounding suitably primitive and the acoustic Death Rhymes coming off quite nicely.
165. Lungtoucher - Foolish Necromanxy
[7.7] - Effective West Country atmos-black, with a surprisingly likeable spoken word into and some nice strings/synths.
166. 16 - Dream Squasher
[7.7] - The kind of sludge album in which the doom and punk roots can both be heard in different songs. A bit conventional but rather enjoyable, thanks to its thick tone.
167. Cénotaphe - Monte Verità
[7.7] - Fairly rudimentary but gripping black metal, with quite a melancholic vibe to it.
168. Izthmi - The Arrows Of Our Ways
[7.7] - A fairly distinctive post-black album, with some blackgaze, more contorted semi-dissonant riffs, stretches of more melancholic music (including some neat solos), and frenetic, break-neck BM blasting all thrown together, sometimes in the same song.
169. Slift - Ummon
[7.7] - Psychedelic/space rock album that moves closer to and further away from my tastes throughout its extensive runtime - I very much dig the chill vibe of Son Dong's Cave, space vibe of It's Coming and groove of Dark was Space.., but the psych rock of Thousand Helmets Of Gold was less to my liking.
170. Cindy Lee - What's Tonight To Eternity
[7.7] - Eclectic mesh of abrasive noise with somewhat twee vocals and instrumentation, there's a lot going on here, meaning what would ordinarily sound quite upbeat becomes menacing and disorienting.
171. Kaoteon - Kaoteon
[7.7] - Well-produced, hooky, tech-y blackened death (with the tech-death side primarily carried by the busy bass playing), this effectively balances melody, aggression and technique.
172. Goblinsmoker - A Throne In Haze, A World Ablaze
[7.7] - Suitably murky aggressive stoner doom, with a pleasantly brief (<30 minute) runtime, this is very much a nasty trudge through miserable swampland.
173. Kawir - Adrasteia
[7.7] - Conventional but fairly stirring pagan-style black metal with enough satisfying hooks, and twists and turns within the songs to sustain enthusiasm throughout. The keyboards in Atalanti work nicely.
174. Bohren & Der Club Of Gore - Patchouli Blue
[7.7] - Dark ambient jazz, an intriguing mix that comes across really well. The subdued electronic base isn't betrayed by the sax, which restrains itself enough to sound haunting rather than obnoxious. There's a bit of a Blade Runner soundtrack vibe to this record, as well as a hint of Katharos XIII.
175. Desert Storm - Omens
[7.6] - Some meaty sludge/stoner groove-fests with power and fire, but also a more delicate side, between the piano sections, melodic singing and the acoustic closing track.
176. Acid Mammoth - Under Acid Hoof
[7.6] - Very standard Sabbath worship doomy stoner metal, eerie vocal approach and all, but it's pretty damn fun, a lot more satisfying than many other retro-worship acts.
177. Black Curse - Endless Wound
[7.6] - Some dirty, infernal-sounding death metal with black metal elements, it pretty consistently shreds throughout but is for the most part a fairly typical assault of tremolo and blast beats without an abundance of memorable hooks. The moody interlude Lifeless Sanctum is quite neat.
178. Panopticon - Panopticon / Nechochwen [Split]
[7.6] - Nechochwen make a good contribution to this atmos-black split; however, Panopticon completely overshadow them with Rune's Heart.
179. Mamaleek - Come & See
[7.6] - Nicely weird avant-garde record, with smooth jazz, psychedelic black weirdness somewhat comparable to Oranssi Pazuzu/similar bands, and some admittedly quite annoying vocals that put a slight dampener on things. I enjoyed the mood of White Of The Eyes in particular.
180. Elysia Crampton - ORCORARA 2010
[7.6] - Some enjoyable ambient electronic music, albeit with a few irritating diversions into chaotic, abstract territory that kinda messes with the mood.
181. Belore - Journey Through Mountains And Valleys
[7.6] - Epic atmos-black firmly in the vein of Summoning and Caladan Brood.
182. Bütcher - 666 Goats Carry My Chariot
[7.6] - Very retro-sounding speed metal, wearing its influences nakedly (Diamond Head in Metallsttrom's introduction, Metallica on Iron Bitch, a whole load of other thrash and speed metal bands from the 80s elsewhere); it's a very fun revival of a fairly forgotten sound, but that's about it.
183. Body Count - Carnivore
[7.6] - I hadn't properly listened Body Count before, but this was a cool little bout of rage; Ice-T is a solid frontman.
184. Helfró - Helfró
[7.6] - A bit harsher than Nyrst as far as Icelandic black metal goes, perfectly serviceable but I'm not dying to revisit it.
185. Naglfar - Cerecloth
[7.6] - Like The Spirit, very standard Dissection-esque meloblack, but a pretty fun album to listen.
186. Dark Forest - Oak, Ash & Thorn
[7.6] - The vocalist is a bit too Bruce Dickinson-inspired, but the folky heavy/power sound here is pretty enjoyable compared to most straight-up heavy bands these days.
187. Huntsmen - Mandala Of Fear
[7.6] - Extremely long follow-up to their promising debut, this doesn't have the same roots American vibe as American Scrap, being a more expansive album, with some sag time in the middle.
188. Serpent Column - Endless Detainment
[7.5] - A maelstrom of chaotic aggression, I respect the frenetic nature of it but don't particularly enjoy it.
189. Lowrider - Refractions
[7.5] - Lags a bit in the middle with some fairly generic uptempo stoner rock songs, but the more melancholy work bookending the album, particularly the excellent closing track Pipe Rider and Weedpecker-ish Ode To Ganymede, lift it up.
190. Clouds - Durere
[7.5] - I feel like early Swallow The Sun is my closest reference point for this band; compared with them, this is a bit slower and more Gothic.
191. Holy Fawn - The Black Moon
[7.5] - Pleasant enough heavy post-rock with airy, ethereal vocals and the odd moment of intensity.
192. Ritual King - Ritual King
[7.5] - Fairly standard hazy stoner rock, but gradually picks up during the album - Dead Roads is a very satisfying jam.
193. Moses Boyd - Dark Matter
[7.5] - Intriguingly varied jazz fusion record, drawing in hip hop, garage, afrobeat and other influences into an eclectic yet consistently quality package.
194. Blaze Of Perdition - The Harrowing Of Hearts
[7.5] - Perfectly enjoyable predominantly mid-tempo post-black metal with solid atmospheric stretches, but a tad generic.
195. Witches Hammer - Damnation Is My Salvation
[7.5] - Frenetic, full-pelt teutonic-influenced thrash debut coming 30-odd years after the band formed, the vocals are a bit muted and indistinct, but the thrashing is quite ripping and the bass comes through nicely in the mix.
196. Loathe - I Let It In And It Took Everything
[7.5] - Very Deftones-y for large portions, but brings in some nu metal/metalcore aggression in certain places, at times to its detriment.
197. Trivium - What The Dead Men Say
[7.4] - Not the most inspiring follow-up to The Sin And The Sentence imaginable, but it's perfectly servicable, and Alex Bent continues to demonstrate his quality behind the kit.
198. Long Distance Calling - How Do We Want To Live?
[7.4] - Another enjoyable if slightly unremarkable effort from these guys.
199. Glaciation - Ultime Éclat
[7.4] - Drama about band ownership aside, this is some cool atmospheric-leaning black metal.
200. Warbringer - Weapons Of Tomorrow
[7.4] - It takes a bit of time to get going, and lags at times before the ends, but the lengthy Defiance Of Fate gives the band some momentum, and the fury of Heart Of Darkness is a welcome kick of adrenaline.
201. Lonker See - Hamza
[7.4] - Has a tendency to annoy on certain tracks, most notably 3-4-8 and the closing song, but otherwise this is some fun jazzy psychedelic space rock.
202. Lör - Edge Of Eternity
[7.4] - Rousing folky prog/power with some stirring moments, but also the odd song or section that lacks a touch of fluidity.
203. Seven Spires - Emerald Seas
[7.4] - Generally enjoyable symphonic metal dominated by the impressive vocalist.
204. Ewigkeit - Land Of Fog (20/20 Re-Vision)
[7.4] - Intriguing proggy black; not too surprising that the man behind the project is involved in In The Woods now.
205. Sons Of A Wanted Man - Kenoma
[7.4] - Solid post-black, albeit lacking a bit of something to elevate it above its peers.
206. Elder Druid - Golgotha
[7.4] - Thick, meaty sludge doom with good riffs and dense production. It's a tad limited, but generally solid at what it does.
207. Tithe - Penance
[7.4] - Doomy grindcore/death, it's an interesting combo, and always intriguing to see where grindcore goes when stretched out.
208. Murmur Xatafi - Murmur
[7.4] - Some rough edges on this prog death sound, but some solid riffs and decent compositions too.
209. Astral Sleep - Astral Doom Musick
[7.4] - Doom with a similarish tone to Monolithe, but a more classic epic doom vocal approach (alongside some growls).
210. Sometimes We Make Music - Trail Of The Fallen
[7.4] - Entertaining European folk metal with some symphonic elements, although these feel relatively background compared to something like Blackguard.
211. Delain - Apocalypse & Chill
[7.4] - Horrid artwork aside, this is a pretty solid commercially-oriented symphonic metal album, ably guided by Wessels' strong vocals and appealing songcrafting.
212. Quasarborn - A Pill Hard To Swallow
[7.4] - Alternates between quite conventional mid-tempo thrash chuggers and more tech-y instrumentation, with a predominantly soaring clean vocal approach, albeit with occasional growls.
213. Jeff Parker - Suite For Max Brown
[7.4] - Smooth modern jazz, with slick guitar work the dominating instrument in what is generally a diverse mix of instrumental and tonal approaches.
214. Demons & Wizards - III
[7.4] - Decent enough comeback, with some solid long songs, but again this project remains lesser than either of the bands its members also play in.
215. Caspian - On Circles
[7.4] - I find myself most wrapped up in this post-rock effort during its early instrumental-only periods, without quite as much affection for the vocals.
216. Abrams - Modern Ways
[7.3] - An enjoyable post/sludge-infused brand of stoner metal, leaving its two strongest songs for the end.
217. Wailin Storms - Rattle
[7.3] - Dark, sinister post-punk, an interesting take on the sound.
218. Fiona Apple - Fetch The Bolt Cutters
[7.3] - Apparently the first 10/10 on Pitchfork in a decade, it's decidedly not my thing, but I can appreciate the creativity, off-kilter nature of it, inventive song structures and harmonizing, and more, even if I have no desire to revisit it.
219. Blessed Black - Beyond The Crimson Throne
[7.3] - Brief and not great throughout, but the darker tone on some of the earlier tracks makes for a nice twist on the stoner metal sound.
220. Conception - State Of Deception
[7.3] - It's always nice to hear Roy Khan, and this is generally decent, but I wasn't that drawn in by a lot of it.
221. Slaughter Messiah - Cursed To The Pyre
[7.3] - Blistering 80s teutonic thrash worship, with frantic tempos, raspy vocals and muddy production.
222. Invent, Animate - Greyview
[7.3] - Decent proggy metalcore, but a bit lacking in memorability compared to something like Erra's Augment.
223. Amnutseba - Emanatism
[7.3] - As far as nasty, dissonant, chaotic black metal goes, this has more moments that genuinely appeal to me than quite a lot of similar groups. I wasn't thrilled listening to it, but there were patches here and there where it was actually drawing me in.
224. Body Void - Body Void / Keeper [Split]
[7.3] - Exhaustingly grim sludge/doom, moving at slow pace with an overload of distortion and bile in the mix. A bit more palatable than some of Body Void's previous work, but still a bit tough to enjoy.
225. Killswitch Engage - Atonement II B-Sides
[7.2] - I can see why these tracks were left off of Atonement in favour of those that made the cut, but this is a decent selection of B-sides, albeit perhaps not as strong as the Incarnate bonus cuts. Prophets Of Treason is probably the strongest of the sextet.
226. Scarab - Martyrs Of The Storm
[7.2] - Another solid round of Egyptian death metal, but perhaps without enough to differentiate it from Serpents Of The Nile to solidify its appeal compared to that record.
227. Morthos - A Decade In Darkness
[7.2] - Another addition to the legion of instrumental post- bands, there's not much in their sound to distinguish themselves from the pack, and not all of it is compelling, but the middle song has a pretty euphoric peak.
228. Sorcerer - Lamenting Of The Innocent
[7.2] - Generally not been huge on the epic doom sound, but I kinda dig the power metal tone to the vocalist (not convinced by the extreme vocals, however).
229. Dopelord - Sign Of The Devil
[7.2] - Generic stoner metal, but with a good amount of conviction, and a bit of bite in Hail Satan.
230. Heaven Shall Burn - Of Truth & Sacrifice
[7.2] - Primarily employing either a KSE-style or late 90s/early 00s In-Flames style of melodic metalcore/melodeath, but without being as memorable as either of those bands, this didn't need to be as long as it is.
231. The Soft Pink Truth - Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?
[7.2] - Some pleasantly dreamy ambient electronic music that descends slightly darker as it progresses.
232. Headwolf - The Lost Warriors
[7.2] - A fairly classic Amon Amarth-esque melodeath record, and an enjoyable one at that.
233. Desert Session Home Edition - Phase 1
[7.2] - Pretty neat online collaboration of a litany of Italian musicians, making a lengthy and pretty solid-sounding heavy prog album, albeit with some ups and downs.
234. Dystopian Future Movies - Inviolate
[7.2] - Pleasantly dreamy gaze-y post-rock.
235. Katatonia - City Burials
[7.2] - An album that inspires in me the same level of excitement as every modern Katatonia record, there's a fair amount of pleasant music here, but it all became a bit same-y several albums ago.
236. Plague - Portraits Of Mind
[7.2] - OSDM, pure and simple, done well but not exceptionally or with any real innovation.
237. Brothers Of Metal - Emblas Saga
[7.2] - Flamboyant epic power metal, with very much a dramatic storyteller vibe. The dual vocal approach is nice, although the shouty tone of the male singer doesn't always quite work for me compared with the dynamic female singer.
238. Cirith Ungol - Forever Black
[7.2] - Considering how boring I find classic trad-heavy these days, this was alright to listen to. I can see why people would dislike the vocals, but I thought they were alright.
239. Kvelertak - Splid
[7.2] - Have to say, not entirely convinced by the vocalist, but otherwise this album is a bit more convincing than the last one, albeit without reaching the level of the debut.
240. Kassad - London Orbital
[7.2] - Solid melancholy post-black metal, the substantial stretches of more quiet ambient music act reasonably well as contrast, but could be a bit more inspiring. The blackgaze parts do nothing new, but work nicely.
241. Fange - Pudeur
[7.2] - Predictably unpleasantly grim sludge, somewhat in the vein of Love Sex Machine with its almost industrial crushing abrasiveness.
242. Violet Cold - Noir Kid
[7.2] - Less consistent than kOsmik, as Synergy can be a bit irritating, but the female vocals are well utilized on Battle Unicorn, and tracks 5-7 all have some good moments.
243. Wrekmeister Harmonies - We Love To Look At The Carnage
[7.2] - A band I can appreciate the artistry behind without really liking, their peculiar drone-oriented avant-garde style is distinctive and creative, but also not really something I particularly care for.
244. Afterbirth - Four Dimensional Flesh
[7.2] - The brutal death metal bits aren't really for me, but the audible bass, and more proggy and techy aspects, as well as the ventures towards something with a hint of melody/atmosphere make this a far more appealing listen than something like Gorevent.
245. Currents - The Way It Ends
[7.1] - Nothing here replicates that Night Terrors/Delusions sound I long for more of; Origin is good but overall nothing special.
246. The Sullen - Rituals Of Death
[7.1] - Decent attempt at the post-black sound, if a tad limited.
247. Yves Tumor - Heaven To A Tortured Mind
[7.1] - Distinctive spin on rock, but not quite my thing.
248. Lovebites - Electric Pentagram
[7.1] - 80 minutes of high-energy power metal like this is really too much, particularly given it's not replete with instantly memorable hooks.
249. Thundercat - It Is What It Is
[7.1] - I quite like the soothing vocal style of Thundercat, but the music here isn't quite to my tastes.
250. Duoxini - Sins Of Society
[7.1] - Underground thrash, it can deliver frantic riffing and tastier grooves equally effortlessly.
251. Joe Bonamassa's The Sleep Eazys - Easy To Buy Hard To Sell
[7.1] - Nicely varied blues rock, with more upbeat rockers and slower grandstands.
252. Unreqvited - Mosaic II: La Déteste Et La Détresse
[7.1] - An effective blackgaze/depressive black metal album, capable of summoning the euphoria of the former and melancholy of the latter, this is rather well put together, with some solid implementation of symphonic elements.
253. Ygg - The Last Scald
[7.1] - Good atmos-black but incredibly by-the-numbers.
254. Faustian Pact - Outojen Tornien Varjoissa
[7.1] - Decent symphonic black metal, with some cheesy but effective background synths. The croaky vocals are a bit grating, however, and it is very much 'of its style', without really adding anything interesting to the formula.
255. Grin - Translucent Blades
[7.1] - The Baroness-esque artwork potentially missells the dirty, noisy sludge approach that kicks off the record. Quite slow and murky early on, it becomes a bit more psychedelic and less suffocating as the album progresses.
256. Burden Of Life - The Makeshift Conquerer
[7.1] - An amalgamation of melodeath, prog and heavy/power metal, the excessive cheese in the more power-metal oriented vocal parts prevents me from liking this more that I otherwise would.
257. Secrets Of The Moon - Black House
[7.1] - Moody Gothic rock/metal, with certain tracks that I find rather enchanting (Sanctum, Heart), but a few that are a bit ineffective for me.
258. From The Vastland - The Haft Khan
[7.1] - One-man band making typical but satisfying black metal.
259. Death The Leveller - II
[7.1] - Moody, empassioned doom metal with some nice guitar melodies.
260. Drown - Subaqueous
[7.1] - Pretty good funeral doom from the Tchornobog guy, but not great enough to get over my general trepidation towards the subgenre.
261. Adrian Tăbăcaru - Lucifer - A Rock Opera
[7.0] - An at-times rather lush prog rock album (particularly the intro), overall the hard rock parts were of less interest to me than the more flamboyant, showy bits (got some Hietala-in-Nightwish vibes at times), but the whole thing made for enjoyable enough listening.
262. Purveyors Of Sonic Doom - Mankind Is Unkind
[7.0] - Chunky lo-fi sludge, very rough and DIY, which adds somewhat to the appeal, but bits of the sloppiness spill into the arrangements, making this a fun little blast of grimness but not rising beyond that.
263. Deathwhite - Grave Image
[7.0] - Suitably melancholic vocals and atmosphere, but a little bit boring at times, in terms of the song structures and vocal melodies.
264. Ironflame - Blood Red Victory
[7.0] - Competent and well-produced classic heavy/power metal with its 80s influences worn nakedly(Maiden, Helloween, etc.).
265. Godthrymm - Reflections
[7.0] - For what it is (a nostalgic epic doom record), it's very good; it's just not something that appeals to me.
266. Amenra - De Messe / De Metanoia
[7.0] - Decent dark ambient/drone effort, but CHVE's solo efforts have been more convincing takes of this style.
267. Panopticon - Panopticon / Aerial Ruin [Split]
[7.0] - Soft acoustic bluegrass; for the second time this year, Panopticon is the stronger contributor to this split, with the closing track The Pit a particular highlight.
268. Aerial Ruin - Stygian Bough: Volume I [Collaboration]
[7.0] - Right below the split is the collaboration; this is okay but it mixes a neofolk sound I'm not enamoured with with a funeral doom sound I'm not enamoured by. Some quality, haunting moments amidst long stretches of 'okay'.
269. Polaris - The Death Of Me
[6.9] - Has some decent songs in but overall doesn't match up to The Mortal Coil.
270. Four Tet - Sixteen Oceans
[6.9] - This features some interesting combinations of house beats with chillout electronica/ambience, although these aren't always convincing. However, these combinations are more compelling than the purely ambient portions of the record.
271. Vvilderness - Dark Waters
[6.9] - Fairly accomplished post-black metal/blackgaze, albeit not something that particularly captivated me.
272. Die Like Gentlemen - Stories
[6.9] - Pleasant enough folk-y acoustic guitar album, although the muted instrumentation and exuberant vocals don't quite gel for me.
273. Tortuga - Deities
[6.8] - Quite varied in approach, this has moments that feel like regular stoner rock, as well as moody doom, but there's some more aggressive, rampaging moments that counteract the slower meat n' potatoes of much of the album nicely.
274. Ulthar - Providence
[6.8] - Nasty, chaotic, aggressive and technical, but a bit unengaging.
275. Forming The Void - Reverie
[6.8] - Fluctuates between super-standard and ordinary, interesting experiments that aren't quite convincing, and the odd song that is really compelling e.g. Trace The Omen. The vocals fluctuate being fine and being a bit of an impediment (the latter particularly at times in the first song).
276. Oath Of Damnation - Fury And Malevolence
[6.8] - Symphonic death metal, closer to Nocturnus than Fleshgod Apocalypse in terms of tone, although the keyboards feel a bit more symphonic-black.
277. Thrawsunblat - Insula
[6.8] - Good isolation effort but below their other works.
278. Walk Through Fire - Vår Avgrund
[6.8] - Almost funeral doom-y for large portions, this is slow, expansive and unfortunately a bit dreary; not quite for me.
279. Disbelief - The Ground Collapses
[6.8] - Competently made and generally satisfying death metal, but without anything to elevate it above its numerous peers.
280. Grey Skies Fallen - Cold Dead Lands
[6.8] - There's some nice guitar solos and leads here, and the more extreme passages were fairly solid, but the classic doom parts with the Pat Walker vocals were a bit offputting for me.
281. Ihsahn - Telemark
[6.8] - Ihsahn with a big band accompaniment, the brass and other instruments add some fun flourishes, but the songs aren't anything too exciting by his standards, and I can live without hearing the covers again.
282. Maere - I
[6.8] - Nasty, frenetic, somewhat dissonant death metal - the one-note vocal sound makes it feel a bit monotonous though, and without any real hooks it just sounds like angry directionless noise at times.
283. At The Altar Of The Horned God - Through Doors Of Moonlight
[6.8] - The Wardruna-esque folk parts are enjoyable enough, although not in a similar tier, but the black metal parts aren't quite as compelling, and the 'Pan' song is a bit much.
284. RoadkillSoda - Sagrada
[6.8] - Fine but slightly unremarkable desert rock.
285. Them Moose Rush - Dancing Maze
[6.8] - I can appreciate what's going on here, but several aspects of it are just really irritating.
286. Vulcano - Eye In Hell
[6.8] - In a year of several frantically fast death-leaning thrash albums, this is perhaps the fastest, but not as interesting as Slaughter Messiah or Witches Hammer.
287. Major Kong - Off The Scale
[6.8] - Decent but limited instrumental stoner.
288. Testament - Titans Of Creation
[6.7] - An all-star line-up performing painfully average songs at the top of their game. I like Testament a fair bit, but this didn't really do anything for me, despite the surplus of talent on display here.
289. Nightwölf - Unleash The Beast
[6.7] - Some well-produced retro heavy/power metal from this Brazilian group (think early Helloween in particular), the main thing that could be worked on is the vocal melodies, which often sound slightly awkward.
290. Paysage d'Hiver - Im Wald
[6.6] - Certainly has its moments, but is way too invariant and generic to justify 2 hours of runtime.
291. Funeralopolis - ...Of Deceit And Utter Madness
[6.6] - At some point, doing a very generic sound well isn't enough, particularly OSDM.
292. Autumns Tears - The Air Below The Water
[6.6] - At times quite stirringly pleasant symphonic music, but a bit too insubstantial for its nearly 90 minutes of runtime.
293. The Night Flight Orchestra - Aeromantic
[6.6] - This kinda thing is generally not in my interests, but Speed from Soilwork is a great vocalist, and I did quite like the first song.
294. Æther Realm - Redneck Vikings From Hell
[6.6] - Having not heard Æther Realm since their debut, I wasn't expecting there to be songs here that sounded so... Amaranthe-y?
295. Yarrow - We Made What God Could Not
[6.6] - Passable extreme doom with some bursts of death metal and occasional interesting fluorishes amidst the quagmire of droning riffs.
296. Allie X - Cape God
[6.6] - Decent electropop that flags a bit in the middle with a couple of songs far away from my tastes; the best tracks bookend the record.
297. Frederik Valentin & Loke Rahbek - Elephant
[6.5] - Generally soothing but at times irritating experimental ambient electronica.
298. Team Sweatwave - Agents of S.W.E.A.T.
[6.5] - Bit of a curious sound to resurrect, 80s exercise video-inspired music which lends quite a bit from 80s stadium rock/metal bands. Fun for what it is, but a bit limited by what it is.
299. Marko Hietala - Pyre Of The Black Heart
[6.4] - Nothing inherently wrong with the folky hard rock sound on this album by Nightwish's bassist, but nothing to really inspire me to return to it.
300. Wharflurch - Lurking Doom
[6.3] - Very satisfyingly cavernous sound for this doomy death EP, and some nice atmospheric moments, but also some roughness in the composition of some tracks.
301. Lamb Of God - Lamb Of God
[6.2] - A passable but underwhelming retread of their past 5 records.
302. Behemoth - A Forest
[6.0] - The Cure cover is not particularly well-done, particularly vocally (I don't think having Kvarforth is much of a benefit here), but the two new songs are pretty neat.
303. Nightwish - Human. :II: Nature.
[5.8] - One disc of varied but insipid music, only briefly punctuated by more typical Nightwish cuts that are also the strongest tracks on the disc, and a second disc of purely orchestral music, pulled off better than one could realistically expect but without really troubling the more dedicated orchestral composers in the world
304. Seeds Of Iblis - Morbid Muhammad
[5.7] - Got a lot of respect for the people making this music despite the risk to their lives, but removed from context, it's very rudimentary; aside from the fact that I generally enjoy the sound of black metal, there's not really anything it adds to that.
305. Magnum - The Serpent Rings
[5.7] - Has a couple of nice songs (e.g. The Archway Of Tears), but is overall fairly run-of-the-mill poppy proggy hard rock.
306. Wormhole - The Weakest Among Us
[5.6] - This is well-done tech-y brutal death, but at the same time it is tech-y brutal death, pig squeals and all, and it makes for somewhat tedious listening.
307. Poppy - I Disagree
[5.5] - I'm all for poppy metal ventures, having hugely enjoyed stuff from Blood Stain Child and Amaranthe in the past, but a lot of this was just irritating.
308. Nero Di Marte - Immoto
[5.5] - A depressing backfire, Nero Di Marte attempted to push their boundaries instrumentally, vocally and as songwriters, but in doing so removed most of what made me so fond of them in the first place.
309. Ozzy Osbourne - Ordinar

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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Comments: 12   Visited by: 137 users
16.01.2020 - 16:16
I see your 4.8 rating and I have to say

I Disagree
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
19.01.2020 - 21:33
Also so glad that for each entry you tell us what year it was released in, I really wouldn't have been able to tell otherwise.
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
20.01.2020 - 11:06
Written by RaduP on 19.01.2020 at 21:33

Also so glad that for each entry you tell us what year it was released in, I really wouldn't have been able to tell otherwise.

I aim to please
02.04.2020 - 18:35
Quite admirable how you've managed to keep this list up to date with some actual commentary on a lot of stuff, especially considering how I almost gave up on my own list. We really ought to have our number of likes switched.
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
02.04.2020 - 18:56
Written by RaduP on 02.04.2020 at 18:35

Quite admirable how you've managed to keep this list up to date with some actual commentary on a lot of stuff, especially considering how I almost gave up on my own list. We really ought to have our number of likes switched.

I aint in this for the like game, I'm in this to somehow keep track of the seemingly infinite number of albums it looks like i'll be listening to during this pandemic
02.04.2020 - 19:26
Written by musclassia on 02.04.2020 at 18:56

I aint in this for the like game

I like the list. I believe Godthrymm's album deserves to be a lot higher but I understand that it's not really your style. Regarde Les Hommes Tomber is very strong indeed. I don't know how much you have listened to Sweven's album but I really think it is nothing short of a masterpiece.
02.04.2020 - 19:43
Written by nikarg on 02.04.2020 at 19:26

I like the list. I believe Godthrymm's album deserves to be a lot higher but I understand that it's not really your style. Regarde Les Hommes Tomber is very strong indeed. I don't know how much you have listened to Sweven's album but I really think it is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Nikarg list when??
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
02.04.2020 - 19:45
Written by RaduP on 02.04.2020 at 19:43

Nikarg list when??

This is what the Spotify playlist below is for. Can't commit to something more.
02.04.2020 - 19:55
Written by nikarg on 02.04.2020 at 19:26

Written by musclassia on 02.04.2020 at 18:56

I aint in this for the like game

I like the list. I believe Godthrymm's album deserves to be a lot higher but I understand that it's not really your style. Regarde Les Hommes Tomber is very strong indeed. I don't know how much you have listened to Sweven's album but I really think it is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Yeah that Godthrymm style is just not my thing, but I can see it being great for people who do like that style (same with Idle Hands last year).

Only listened to Sweven once so far, but definitely aiming to revisit - just had an onslaught of recommendations that I've been grinding through before I can give things second/third tries.
30.06.2020 - 19:07
309 albums in the first 6 months of 2020 - that's more than I've generally done in full years. The last entry cut off Gorevent despite all my cuts to the descriptions in this list; to be honest, I kinda like not even dignifying that record with its full name, given that the artwork still shows up
25.11.2020 - 06:03
I checked out every single album on this list and I have to thank you for Grin and especially Lotus Thief. You and Anghellic67 share some similarities in lists but I found out about other albums due to their list first (like Dwaal and Wreckmeister Harmonies). Now onward to check your July - December list. I'm hoping I can find something there too.
25.11.2020 - 10:04
Written by quieted_darkness on 25.11.2020 at 06:03

I checked out every single album on this list and I have to thank you for Grin and especially Lotus Thief. You and Anghellic67 share some similarities in lists but I found out about other albums due to their list first (like Dwaal and Wreckmeister Harmonies). Now onward to check your July - December list. I'm hoping I can find something there too.

Impressive effort man! Glad you found some good discoveries through it

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